Surviving the Underground City of the Dead

October 31, 2016

Ghostly figure in Edinburgh's South Bridge VaultsLast Thursday along with 10 other bloggers I had a very ghostly visit to Edinburgh’s underground city of the dead. We all met outside the Tron Kirk just off the Royal Mile and made our way down to the South Bridge vaults hearing a little about the cities history on the way. The vaults were created during the building of the cities South Bridge and sit underneath one of the busiest streets in the city. I’m sure you can imagine what kinds of illegal and unpleasant things happened in hidden vaults underneath the city all those years ago. From illegal taverns to safe passage for criminals to housing for the very poor it wouldn’t have been a place anyone wanted to visit. There are even rumours that the vaults were used by the infamous Burke and Hare to transport bodies.

Growing up in Edinburgh I’ve heard countless spooky stories of ghostly encounters across the city. But the one place which comes up time and time again as the most haunted place in the city is the South Bridge vaults. All these stories just add to the spooky atmosphere of the vaults, which hits you instantly as you walk in. The place is dark, dank and damp and really eerie, you have a feeling of being watched the whole time. As we moved deeper into the vaults the rooms became darker, smaller and spookier. Our guide Dave told us stories about the many ghostly encounters which had happened right where we were standing. These ranged from feeling cold to finding strange bruises and scratches on your body to passing out completely. Hearing about ghosts physically scratching people hard enough to leave marks really freaked me out. Add this to the spooky environment and I was really on edge throughout the tour. I wasn’t alone, everyone in the group was on edge and waiting for something to happen. In the final, most haunted vault of the tour Dave turned out his torch plunging us into pitch darkness. I won’t tell you what happened in the darkness (you’ll have to go on the tour if you’re brave enough) but I will tell you it ended with everyone screaming and grabbing each other for safety. Did we have an encounter with the infamous South Bridge Entity?

Single candle lit in the spooky South Bridge VaultsAfter our terrifying experience in the South Bridge vaults, we headed to Whistle Binkies to recover with the help of the holy spirit (AKA Gin). But if we thought we were safe in the pub we were wrong, Whistle Binkies is one of Edinburgh’s most haunted pubs. In fact, we were sat in one of its caves housed in the belly of the South Bridge vaults. The ghost stories and tales of spooky encounters continued in the pub, with Dave telling us about Whistle Binkies resident ghosts the Watcher and the Imp. After our scary encounter and spooky ghost stories, I think we all had a little trouble sleeping that night.

If you prefer you ghost hunting with a little holy spirit (Gin) then Whistle Binkies certainly isn’t the only haunted pub in Edinburgh. You can even enjoy a drink in The White Hart Inn the last remaining hunting ground of Burke and Hare who committed 16 murders (that we know of) and sold the bodies to the medical school. They would ply victims with alcohol before leading them off to their gruesome end. Perhaps you will share a table with one of their victims?

The folk at Yelp Edinburgh have created an interactive map of the 6 most haunted pubs in Edinburgh. This would make a unique and spooky pub crawl in the city. Make sure you ask the staff about their ghostly encounters in every pub. I know from experience that everyone who works in the pubs and clubs of Edinburgh’s Old Town has a ghostly tale to tell.

Looking upwards in the South Bridge VaultsOur ghost hunting evening was organised by the team at 8 Million Stories on behalf of Yelp Edinburgh and the tour was from the City of the Dead Tours. We went on the Underground City of The Dead Tour. This was one of the most unique and fun (and scary) blogger events I’ve ever been on, thanks to everyone involved in putting it together.


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